When I married Paul, the idea of soup for dinner pretty much went out the window. Paul turned his nose up at soup, declaring it “ok for a starter” but never fit for an actual meal.
The thing is, I don’t really have time for starters.
I would like to tell you that we sit down each night to well-composed three course meals served on pretty china and with freshly-ironed linens. The reality is far from it.
Most nights, dinner makes it to the table in a hurry, while the baby races his plastic school bus back and forth across the kitchen floor tiles. I cook to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus.”
We eat a lot of one-pot suppers and I usually feel like I am really going the extra mile if I take the time to make a salad. Last night, the “side dish” was french fries that came from a bag in the freezer.
We use cloth napkins, but they are rumpled and not in a casually-elegant kind of way. Just in a rumpled kind of way. Sometimes one of the napkins vanishes and Paul and I have to share the one that is left.
And we do have candles on the table, but no candlelight. Just perpetually unlit candles. I don’t think they are fooling anyone.
I basically never bother with starters unless we are having guests and sometimes not even then, because if we’re going to have an extra course, I would almost always rather it be dessert.
But I do like soup.
So I’m always happy when I hit on a soup that is hearty enough to stand on its own as a meal.
This curried cauliflower soup is one of those. Perfect for autumn weeknights, it’s quick to prepare and can also be made ahead and reheated just before serving, if you find that easier. It’s substantial enough to satisfy the biggest soup skeptic I know and, suprise, it also just happens to be vegan.
I started off following a recipe for a milky cauliflower and red bell pepper chowder from Food52 but partway through I decided that I didn't want that after all. I changed out some of the seasonings, used coconut milk instead of cows milk and ended up with this curried cauliflower soup instead.
I kept the spices pretty gentle in this version because I wanted something kid-friendly. If you want the soup itself to be more assertively spiced, you could definitely bump up the amount of curry powder or even add a little fresh chili when the bell pepper goes into the pot.
I served this soup topped with fresh cilantro, a dusting of cayenne pepper and a little bit of leftover, whipped, coconut cream that was hanging out in our fridge. Coconut cream is the thick stuff that separates out when you open a can of coconut milk. You could try a dollop of yogurt or a swirl of heavy cream instead, if you don't care about keeping the soup vegan.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 small russet potato, peeled and diced
- 2 cups chopped cauliflower
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- To serve:
- whipped coconut coconut cream (see headnote)
- cayenne pepper
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot such as a dutch oven. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook until the pepper is softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the dried spices and cook for another minute or so, to gently toast the spices.
Add the potato, cauliflower, stock, coconut milk and salt. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, until the pieces of cauliflower and potato are soft.
Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender. You could also puree this in batches in a regular blender, just make sure not to overfill the blender and watch out for hot steam.
Serve with a dollop of whipped coconut cream, a little fresh cilantro and a light dusting of cayenne pepper.
This soup will keep, refrigerated, for several days and I suspect it would also freeze well, though I haven't tried that.